CBC students included in international symposium with Pope Francis

As part of an education initiative launched by Pope Francis in 2013, two CBC Fremantle students were selected to be part of an intercontinental youth forum presenting their ideas on solutions to global issues in an audience with the Holy Father at the Vatican.

Preston Hinton in Year 10 and Toby Tomlinson in Year 11 were the only Australians amongst 12 students from five continents who participated in the three day programme presented by the Scholas Foundation, a non-profit education entity promoting social integration and the culture of peace throughout the world.

The students spent time discussing Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si, which addresses environmental degradation and climate change and calls for “swift and unified global action”, before presenting their proposals to the Pope at an audience that included George Clooney, Richard Gere and Salma Hayek.

Preston and Toby were stunned at the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which came about due to a last minute cancellation from another Australian Catholic school. The boys were accompanied on the trip by Vice Principal of CBC Fremantle, Mr Domenic Burgio, who spoke of the incredible experience.

“Pope Francis is a very special human being. The first thing I noticed was his utter humility. His entrance was low key, the attention he pays others is so personal, and the attention he expects from others is the same as a favourite uncle expects of a niece or nephew. At one stage one of the students from Argentina broke every protocol, lunged at Francis and hugged and kissed him. His Holiness’ reaction was as joyful as that of the boy. He is truly a man of the people. This is a Pope who constantly talks about the poor. This is a Pope who constantly talks about inclusivity, and who challenges greed, war, hatred, Church corruption and the ways of the past that have brought us to where we are. Pope Francis has challenged many traditional Catholic views, and I know that many of my non-religious friends have a place in their hearts for him and his message. I believe Francis is a very contemporary Pope, and one who will transform the Church into a modern institution. He is the epitome of the Holy Spirit at work; certainly the right man for the times.”

CBC Fremantle Principal, Mr Shaun Kenny, was thrilled at the opportunity for the students to participate in the symposium.

“We encourage all our students to see themselves as stewards of our world. As Catholics, and as a school in the tradition of Edmund Rice, we are deeply aware of the need to care for our fellow beings – which also means caring for the home of our children and their children.”



Church … is you, me, we, and all between.